BRISTOL, Tenn. – Sam Mayer conquered the Concrete Coliseum on Saturday afternoon, completing a perfect weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway with a dominant victory in the Zombie Auto 150.
After sweeping practice and setting a new track record in qualifying, Mayer led every lap in the race for his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win in just his eighth series start.
The 15-year-old from Franklin, Wis., never trailed under green-flag conditions, leading at both of the segment breaks at laps 50 and 100 and pulling away from second-place Chase Cabre in the final stanza.
Mayer ultimately took the checkered flag in front by 3.634 seconds for his first win at the .533-mile oval.
“Thunder Valley is one of the coolest places on the planet and coming out here and winning like this, it means a lot,” said Mayer. “I can’t thank everyone at GMS … Mardy (Lindley, crew chief) and everyone on the crew enough for their efforts; it means so much.”
Though Mayer isn’t old enough to legally drive by himself on the street yet, he put on a clinic around the Bristol concrete with his No. 21 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet.
“I have my learner’s permit, if that counts for anything,” Mayer laughed. “This is really neat; I can’t believe it.
“The race definitely played out different than I thought it was going to; I thought it would be pretty solid around the top (side), but we weren’t up there at all,” he added. “It was all around the bottom. It was really good down low, but when we had to get out of the groove to pass lapped traffic, you had to feather the throttle and be easy on it before you got back into your rhythm.”
Cabre came home second and gave Mayer a little bump off turn two on the final restart with 45 to go, but couldn’t stay with him after that and had to settle for second in the No. 4 Honda Generators Toyota.
“I really thought we had the pace to run with him (Mayer) there early on. In the first stage, we closed on him at the end, and then he got away from us in lapped traffic,” noted Cabre. “I was just way too loose to move up and get around lapped cars. I thought maybe we had something for him at the end, but that last stage he turned the wick up and I got a bit tight. Hats off to Sam; he drove a great race.
“I just can’t thank my crew enough,” Cabre added. “It’s good to come out of here with a top-five run. We’ll keep plugging away and go onto the next one, and hopefully come out with a championship at the end of the year.”
Brandon McReynolds completed the podium for Visconti Motorsports, 6.101 seconds adrift, followed by a pair of Georgia natives in Drew Dollar and Spencer Davis.
Derek Kraus finished sixth ahead of Colin Garrett and Mason Diaz. Just eight cars were on the lead lap.
The race was marred by a vicious crash at the end of lap one that ended the day for Ruben Garcia Jr., Riley Herbst and Natalie Decker, as well as ruined the chances for outside polesitter Tanner Gray.
Gray finished two laps down in 10th with a damaged No. 15 Valvoline/Durst Toyota.
Sam Mayer, Chase Cabre, Brandon McReynolds, Drew Dollar, Spencer Davis, Derek Kraus, Colin Garrett, Mason Diaz, Raphael Lessard, Tanner Gray, Brittney Zamora, Anthony Sergi, Max McLaughlin, Brandon Oakley, Charles Buchanan Jr., Hailie Deegan, Ruben Garcia Jr., Riley Herbst, Natalie Decker.